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    Where The Hell Was That?

    Travel Amnesia – Yes it’s a Thing

    I have talked a little in the past about travel fatigue – a real ailment that afflicts most full-time travelers, but I’ve never mentioned travel amnesia. Yes, it’s a thing. Not a day goes by where one of us doesn’t have a total brain meltdown and say “Where the hell was that?”

    Let me give you an example. Walking around Malaga Spain my husband says “this reminds me of that place where there were all those sailboats.”

    Me “We’ve been lots of places with sailboats”.

    Him “You know it was real busy and there was a soccer match and we waited forever for the Uber because there was so much traffic”.

    Me “Oh and we had that terrible meal at that restaurant. That was Sydney”.

    Him “Was it? I don’t think so. Where the hell was that?”

    Me “I’m sure it was Sydney and we went to that new art museum in the industrial area.”

    Him “That doesn’t seem quite right but I guess it was”.

    We go round and round like this daily. Sometimes more than once a day. Travel amnesia. Sometimes we pull out my phone to look up a photo to remember where we were.

    Sometimes this “where the hell was that” moment creates a disagreement, but usually it resolves itself quickly, when one or both of us remember a detail that jogs the other’s memory.

    But sometimes it doesn’t. Going back to the conversation above, the next morning I was waking up from a good night’s sleep when my travel amnesia floodgates opened. I turned my head to see if Arne’s eye were open. They were so I said –

    “Cape Town”.

    It took him only a split second.

    “That’s it. I knew Sydney didn’t seem quite right.” We laughed about it the rest of the day.

    Problem solved. Until travel amnesia rears it’s ugly head once again.

    It’s actually become a game for us. Part “too much travel” and part “I’m getting old” – keeping the internal database clicking along without any glitches is a challenge. Thank goodness we have each other, it’s the only way to solve our daily travel amnesia question “where the hell was that?”.

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    Europe Travel  --  Food & Drink

    My Favorite Tapas of Spain

    Eating My Way Through Spain

    Location: Sevilla Spain

    It’s no secret I love to eat.  Our grand adventure involves a lot of food.  Travel is a conduit to cuisines of the world.  And I couldn’t love that more.

    I’ve been asked often what my favorite cuisine is.  It’s a tough question.  I love the comfort noodles of Asia, the rich stews and meats of the Balkans, the fresh seafood of the Mediterranean.  I adore any

    Anchovies

    cuisine made with the freshest local produce.  And I am also endlessly fascinated with the culture and history behind regional cuisine; pierogi of Poland; khao soi of northern Thailand; peka of Croatia, shopska salad of Bulgaria, tagine of Morocco.  These foods are both storyteller and palate dancer.

    My favorite Spanish Tapas

    Shrimp

    What could be more fabulous?

    Spanish Cuisine

    We’ve been in Spain now for more than a month.  Last year we spent more than two months in Spain.  I have learned to enjoy what is really a simple cuisine here in this country – locally sourced, simply prepared and not overly seasoned.  Although the many regions of Spain have their individual specialties, the focus of the overall cuisine of Spain is fresh and seasonal.

    My favorite Spanish Tapas

    Fried sardines

    My only complaint about Spain is how late they eat their meals.  Breakfast is barely a meal – just coffee and a croissant, maybe a tortilla (here in Spain ‘tortilla’ is an egg and potato dish, aka Spanish omelet) around 10am.  Lunch isn’t until 2:00pm and dinner rarely gets started before 9pm.  For this American, that is well past my bedtime.

    One of the reasons Spain eats so late is because they are in a crazy backwards timezone.  Ever since Franco wanted Spain in the same timezone as Germany, Spaniards have lived with a VERY late sunrise and a VERY late sunset.  So, they have adjusted their eating habits to accommodate.  Unfortunately my internal clock is not so easily adjusted.

    So the answer for me, when in Spain, is to live on tapas – the luscious

    My favorite Spanish Tapas

    Stuffed olives

    little dishes served all day long.  I have become a fan of tapas for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

    The Tapa Life

    We have enjoyed my favorite tapas of Spain in Madrid, Santiago,Leon and Barcelona.  But Sevilla loves its tapas bars (there are no tapas restaurants only bars – tapas are always served with alcohol) and the abundance of options is both fun and a bit overwhelming.  In fact many will argue Sevilla is the birthplace of the tapa. We studied up a bit on where to go, what to eat and some history, then we set out on our own little “tapear”, the Spanish word for tapas hopping. Time to find my favorite tapas of Spain.

    As we set out on our excursion we were happy to know there really wasn’t anywhere better we could be eating tapas than in Sevilla, and specifically in the historic Triana neighborhood.  Myths and legends abound about tapas. One of the most

    My favorite Spanish Tapas

    Cold tomato soup

    popular is King Alfonso the 10th, The Wise King of Spain, had once been stricken with a serious illness which only allowed him to take in small portions of food with small amounts of wine. After recovering from his illness, the king issued a decree that no wine should be served at inns unless it was served with food. (credit A Brief History of Tapas, Pita Jungle).

    My Favorite Spanish Tapas

    We did not have the opportunity to try every kind of tapa Sevilla is famous for, but we indulged in many and here is a list of some of our favorites both from our tour of Triana and our time throughout Spain (see photos and captions of

    My favorite Spanish Tapas

    Pork in whiskey with potata

    several throughout this blog); croqueta (very popular bite size fried cheesy nuggets often with jamon but we enjoyed it with duck as well as mint), montadito (tiny bite size jamon and pork sandwich), solomillo al whiskey (pork in whisky sauce), los pajaritos (tiny fried quail), patata (fresh potato chip), tortilla bites (egg and potato omelette), tortillita de camarones (fried shrimp pancake), espinacas con garbanzos (spinach and garbanzo beans), salmorejo (cold tomato soup), stuffed olives, thin sliced jamon iberico de bellota (acorn fed Iberian ham), pancetta frita (fried pork belly), grilled shrimp, boiled shrimp, sardinas ala parilla  (grilled sardines), mussels, pulpo (octopus), razor clams, fried calamari, boquerones (anchovies) on toast, sausages and rabo de toros (bull’s tail).  And those are just the ones I can remember.

    Simple, Cheap & Delicious

    It’s a wonderful way to eat.  But the great thing is, even if you are only stopping for a glass of wine with a friend, the bar will always set something to nibble in front of you (because the King said so).  It will

    My favorite Spanish Tapas

    Grilled sardines and grilled shrimp

    probably be a plate of olives, perhaps nuts or sometimes bread with ham and cheese or tortilla.   It’s said that the original tapas were probably bread with jamon, which was used to cover your drink (the word tapa means ‘cover’).

    My favorite Spanish Tapas

    Croqueta

    Despite the origin of the word, it now describes a cuisine unto its own.  Though southern Spain and particularly Andalusia claim it, the popularity of tapas has spread, particularly to South and Central America, Mexico and the United States.

     

    The day of our tapear we ate and drank (both beer and wine) for several hours at six locations.  And our total spending for the afternoon? Less

    My favorite Spanish Tapas

    Tiny fried quail

    than $50.

    We leave Sevilla and head next to Malaga – about 205 km south, on the Mediterranean.  We expect to continue our tapas exploration and enjoy

    a bounty of fresh goodness from the sea. Fabuloso and delicioso!

    Malaga here we come!

     

    Read my blog about food in Barcelona.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Yep, another World War II story.  I actually didn’t like this book in the beginning.  But then as the story unfolded I began to enjoy it solely because it takes a different angle on the Nazi Germany story.  The view from the German side.  Not the Nazi side, but the German people and women in particular who learn to survive under Nazi rule, doing whatever it takes.

    The focus is on Anna Schlemmer, the mother of Trudy a professor of German History in Minneapolis.  Anna was in Germany during the war, but has refused to talk about it all her life. For fifty years Anna has remained silent about what happened to her and Trudy (only three at the time) during the war. Until Trudy begins to uncover details about her mother, her father and what really happened in the small town German town during WWII.

    Heartbreaking story of Anna Schlemmer’s life, love and loss.

    A story of resistance, love, regret and ultimately judgement for a family and those they loved.  It’s a timely tale – one with a message we should all consider.  What did we know, what did we ignore, what survival tactics did we use, and in the end, who suffered because of it.  A timeless question.

    Three stars for Those Who Save Us by Jenna Blum

    Read last week’s review of Ahab’s Wife.

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    Adventure Travel  --  Inspire

    Camino de Santiago Final Thoughts

    Enjoy our Fun Video

    Location: Camino de Santiago Spain


    We say farewell to the Camino de Santiago with this fun video we put together while walking the Camino Portuguese.  We hope you enjoy it.

    And we share with you some final thoughts.   If our blog, our travels and our Caminos inspire you in any way, to go do things you never imagined you could do, then we are fulfilled.  Because life is short, the world is amazing, and each one of us has a spark inside that, with a little bit of oxygen, is ready to flame.

    Don’t wait to find what makes you happy.  Go be Fabulous today.

     

    Our journey now continues with two more weeks in Spain and then on to Florida, Colombia, Panama, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil and much more.

    Thanks for following.  Go. Be. Fabulous.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Ahab’s Wife: Or, The Star Gazer: A Novel by Sena Jeter Naslund

    Reading Wednesday

    Location: Reading Wednesday

    Epic.  An overused word.  And yet, I can’t think of another one to use here.  Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund is Epic.

    More than 700 pages, this story follows the life of Una, a child in Kentucky in the early 1800’s enduring a childhood with an abusive father who rants bible verses and cannot show love to her.  At age 12 Una is sent to live with her aunt and uncle who are lighthouse keepers on an island in New England.  Her second life unfolds on the island with a loving family and an education, yet she yearns for something more. Something she can’t imagine but knows is out there.  She begins to understand her future has more in store for her when two young men, Kit and Giles, arrive on the island.

    My favorite part of the novel begins when Una takes her life into her own hands and adventure ensues.  The third life of Una is a remarkable journey when she masquerades as a boy and stows away on board a whaling vessel out of Nantucket.  The nerve of this young girl to pull this off!  I was enraptured in this tale of life and death on the high sea.  And there is a lot of death.  A dangerous business is whaling and Una (known as a boy as Ulysses) experiences everything onboard from suicide, drowning, sickness, fierce storms and eventually cannibalism.  I couldn’t stop reading.

    BUT I had to stop reading because it took me forever to get this far in the book, and my three-week library loan of the kindle edition was up.  Argh!  I had to go back on the waiting list to finish the story.  Six weeks went by before I was able to once again join Una’s odyssey.

    Una finds herself saved (more than once) from death, is married (more than twice) in life and experiences the loss of a child, a mother, dear friends, a husband.  She survives poverty and indulges in riches. Her intelligence intrigues her with science and literature and many people pass through her life that inspire and teach her and make her stronger. The author inserts numerous real life authors and scientists into the story that enrich Una’s life and the novel.

    She lives her life fully no matter what her current situation is.  

    But her fourth life, her life as Ahab’s wife is both the happiest and the saddest of her days.  For multiple reasons, all of which make the story so bountiful and an amazing read.

    I won’t tell how it ends as she begins her fifth life.  This remarkable tale is one of my favorite reads in a very long time.  It is a very long book, taking a major commitment to read, and worth every minute.  It feels like a biography, but it is pure fiction, fun, exciting, beautifully written and of course, Epic.

    This book is nearly twenty years old but I had never heard of it.  It was recommended to me by someone on Facebook but I can’t remeber who (was it you? Tell me!).

    Both my husband and I loved Ahab’s Wife: Or, The Star Gazer: A Novel by Sena Jeter Naslund. Five Stars. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

    Read last week’s review of The Velvet Hours

    Adventure Travel

    The End of the Earth

    Ending our Camino at the Atlantic Ocean

    Location: Muxia Spain

    Over the past two years I’ve spent nearly three months of my days in the beautiful country of Spain.  I’ve seen a lot of it’s wonders.  And yet, here I am at the ‘End of the Earth’- totally surprised and in awe of this beautiful rugged coast – unlike anything else I have seen in Spain.

    I’m so glad we came.

    Finisterre.

    Bronze boot at the fini

    Finisterre & Muxia are located on the Coste de Morte (Coast of Death), at the most western spot in Spain (and some argue in Europe).  Located in the autonomous community of Galicia, both Spanish and Galician is spoken.  The Coste de Morte is named thus because of the countless shipwrecks that have occurred on this rocky coast over the millennia.

    For many pilgrims, this rocky coast is their final destination, after visiting the Cathedral in Santiago de Compostela.  It’s a three-day walk to Finisterre and another day on to Muxia.  For those who don’t have

    Camino de Santiago

    Santiago Cathedral

    the time, bus tours are available so pilgrims can come and see the historic and beautiful location.

    Final day walking

    Horreo a Galician corn crib

    It was Saint James who brought Christianity to the Iberian Peninsula. In 44 AD, he was beheaded in Jerusalem and his remains were brought back to Galicia. Following Roman persecutions of Spanish Christians, his tomb was abandoned in the 3rd century. In 814 AD, legends have the tomb rediscovered, and King Alfonso II of Asturias and Galicia is responsible for ordering the construction of a chapel to house the tomb, on the site where today’s Cathedral stands.  This created the gradual development of the pilgrimage to the tomb.  

    The beach at Finisterr

    As pilgrimage to Santiago grew, pilgrims also started arriving in Finisterre to worship and see the “End of the Earth”. The first hospital (hostel) was built in 1479.

    Sculpture at Muxia

    For the people of ancient times, the Costa da Morte was the last redoubt of explored land, the westernmost part of continental Europe, the final stretch of an itinerary traced in the sky by the Milky Way.

    Legend has this ‘End of the Earth’ also as the place where pilgrims would collect a scallop shell, to prove they had made the journey to the sea.  The scallop shell has many meanings to pilgrims and the Camino de Santiago, read about that here.

    Our Lady of d Barca Muxia

    So visiting Finesterre and Muxia was something we wanted to do.  We had the time and seeing the Atlantic Coast of Spain was high on our list.  Although the weather is cool and cloudy I’m still glad we came.  The stormy coast is a great place to relax and enjoy a few cozy days before we continue on our journey. The End of the Earth as we know it.  And I feel fine.

    Note: We continue our Spanish journey in a few days.  On to Sevilla, Malaga and Cadiz.  Watch for more

    The End of the Earth

    Many people don’t realize how far west Spain is. Finisterre is on the same latitude as Boston

    about those destinations soon.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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    Adventure Travel

    Gotta Be Flexible in our Fabulous Fifties

    My Camino Week Two

    Camino de Santiago

    Location: Camino de Santiago Spain

    We had planned to walk from Santiago de Compostela on to Finisterre on the Atlantic and then on to Muxia.  That was always our plan.  But two major factors created a need for us to reevaluate our plans.  Gotta be Flexible in our Fabulous Fifties. Gotta be flexible on the Camino de Santiago.

    Camino de Santiago

    Santiago Cathedral where the pilgrims arrive

    The Best Laid Plans

    The weather of course was the first reason.  After walking in low forty degree temperatures and pouring rain we both agreed we didn’t want to do that.  We have some rain gear but not gear for the

    Camino de Santiago

    Cold and wet

    thermometer dropping into the 30’s…unseasonably cold for Spain in late October.  Our last day hiking left me stiff and sore and it took me hours to thaw out.

    The second reason came just as unexpected as the freezing weather.  We learned on the day we were walking into Santiago that the courier service we have been using to transport our bag only operates through the end of October.  Wait. What?  Shouldn’t they have mentioned this to us a little earlier?

    We can’t walk the Camino de Santiago with a roller suitcase, even though it’s not very big.  With at least five more days of walking, we sat down and reevaluated our plan.

    Camino de Santiago

    Approaching the Cathedral from the south

    Santiago de Compostela

    Arriving in Santiago was fun, although a bit anti-climatic compared to last year’s arrival after walking for 41 days. The best part was seeing the gorgeous cathedral sans the scaffolding it had been wearing last year. We took the time to do the cathedral tour (which we didn’t do last year) and admire the remarkable gold altar and the relics of Saint James, housed in the beautiful silver tomb. This 1000 year-old-cathedral is one of the most important in the Catholic faith.  And you don’t have to be Catholic or even religious to be in awe of the history that is housed here.  For me, the idea of the millions of people who have all made the walk here for all their own reasons is absolutely

    Camino de Santiago

    The gold nave

    fascinating, spiritual and worthy of respect.

    We took all the obligatory photos, picked up our Compostela (certificate of completion) and had a delicious dinner and lots of wine to celebrate and warm up.  While drinking wine and eating Spanish tapas we made the decision to take the bus to Finisterre instead of walking.

    The End of the Earth – Finisterre

    Finisterre was where the devout pilgrims to Santiago came to collect the proof of their pilgrimage in the form of the scallop shell. In medieval times this rock was the end of the known world, where the sun set into what was then thought of as the end of the earth. The word Finisterre derives from the Latin finis terrae, meaning “end of the

    Camino de Santiago

    Arriving in grey Finisterre

    earth”.

    So a four-day walk became a three-hour bus ride. We are here in Finisterre for two days and will walk and see some of the Camino sights here, as well as enjoy the bounty of Galician seafood. With the weather forecast improving, we plan to walk on Friday the 20 miles to Muxia and send our roller bag via taxi to meet us there.

    Camino de Santiago

    Tapas in Santiago

    Hopefully this will work out, and given our extra time, we can relax and enjoy a comfy Airbnb in Muxia for five nights. I’ll certainly be blogging on how these plans unfold. Fingers crossed.

    Our Journey Continues

    In the meantime, feeling accomplished to have made it this far.  I have no need to prove anything to anyone including myself, so I am perfectly happy with our current plans.  And watching the weather forecast with a hopeful heart for a warming trend in the days ahead.

    Buen Camino!

     

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